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Palm Beach Artificial Reef

What’s the latest… September 2019 update

Construction of the artificial reef is now complete.

The temporary exclusion zone is no longer in place. While the primary purpose of the reef is coastal protection, surfing outcomes were considered in the reef’s design. Please observe safety signage prior to accessing the reef.

Palm Beach Artificial Reef Construction – August 2019


Palm Beach, or better known as ‘Palmy’ to the locals, has historically had less sand compared to other Gold Coast beaches which makes it one of our most vulnerable beaches to the threat of coastal erosion. After carefully considering an appropriate solution, the City developed the Palm Beach Shoreline Project, with the Palm Beach Artificial Reef being phase 2 of this project. Phase 1 saw the successful nourishment of Palm Beach in 2017 with over 470,000 cubic metres of clean sand.

From April through to October 2019, the City is constructing the Palm Beach Artificial Reef approximately 270 metres offshore from Nineteenth Avenue between the beach and the existing natural reef.

Site extent view of Palm Beach Artificial Reef.


Surfer and beach user safety

The Palm Beach Artificial Reef is a submerged rock structure offshore of Nineteenth Avenue. Under certain swell conditions there is predicted to be waves breaking on the reef suitable for intermediate and advanced surfers. All beach users are advised to familiarise themselves with beach and surf safety information prior to accessing City Beaches.

Beach and surf users please note:
• Additional permanent signage has been installed along beach access ways detailing hazards and warnings related to the artificial reef. Please familiarise yourself with the information on these signs before entering the water.
• Observe the surf and wave conditions before surfing.
• Water can be shallow above the artificial reef; please exercise caution when in close proximity.
• Conditions may be dangerous and can change unexpectedly.
• There may be strong currents and hazardous waves on and around the artificial reef at times.
• The submerged uneven rock surface may present an entanglement risk.
• Similar safety considerations exist when swimming or surfing near any submerged rocks.
• The area may not be patrolled by lifeguard services.

Palm Beach Artificial Reef safety sign.
Palm Beach Artificial Reef safety sign.


What it looks like

The reef will be constructed of large rock boulders quarried in South East Queensland and transported to site using barges. The boulders range from smaller ‘core’ rock to as large as 8 tonnes each, and will be strategically and carefully placed to form a structure 160 metres long and 80 metres wide. Once constructed, the reef will be 1.5 metres below the average water level at its highest point.

Section view of Palm Beach Artificial Reef showing rock sizes.

How it works

A lot of investigation and effort has gone into the design of the artificial reef including coastal data capture, computer modelling and wave tank testing to see how the beach behaves not just above the water line, but underneath the water too!

Here on the Gold Coast sand naturally moves north along the coast as a result of the predominant south easterly wave direction. This innovative underwater structure will influence the surrounding waves and currents to temporarily slow the northerly transport of sand around the reef. This will hold the additional sand delivered through the previous beach nourishment works for longer, and promote a long term increase in sand along vulnerable sections of Palm Beach.

The increase in sand will be located just offshore and not necessarily always visible to beach users. But rest assured this sand will act as a buffer to protect Palm Beach from future erosion events. Once sand has moved beyond the reef, it will naturally continue to move up the coast.

And for all the surfers out there, surf amenity has been considered in the design process – ensuring that the vision of the City’s Surf Management Plan is pursued.

Area benefited by the Palm Beach Artificial Reef.


Check out our video below for more facts about the Palm Beach Shoreline Project.





Further information

For more information on this project, please go to the City of Gold Coast website.

If you have any further queries about the project, please email